Archive for the 'future thinking' Category


Continuous Partial Attention

As we take on more and more information at the same time – watching TV whilst writing an email for example, our attention – or lack of – is becoming more important.

Particls is a new desktop ticker which displays headlines and snapshots of all the RSS feeds you subscribe to. I just started using it at the beginning of last week and it’s brilliant, so I subscribed to their blog…

Here’s a post from their blog on Continuous Partial Attention:

Stowe has recently written about his ideas of ‘Flow’ and Continuous Partial Attention (CPA).

His premise is that we are not necessarily information saturated – that our brains are evolving to a point where we can let the information flow over us and stay continuously partially attentive to many things at the same time. He claims that this is a perfectly natural change in our concentration and mental abilities.

He writes about Linda Stone – an expert in CPA.

“Linda and many others will tell us it will rot our teeth, disrupt family life, and lead to hair on our palms. I for one am not eager to turn off my devices and pay all my attention to one thing at a time, one moment at a time. There are too many targets on the horizon, too many members of the tribe, and too many jaguars lurking in the shadows for that. In my tribe, we don’t do things that way.”

I’m young – my brain can handle it for now – so I agree with Stowe (to a point). Information (particularly news) should flow – not pool. An information flow (river of news, news ticker, popup alerts) is typically more effective than reading news in a folder/item email style metaphor.

An Attention Profiling markup language has been created APML similar in principle to OPML which is used to list all the RSS feeds I subscribe to.


Can Planners be Creative Directors?

Once you get past the self publicity panalists at these talks always bring with them, it’s actually an interesting discussion.


A Vision of our Future

This 20 minute video from the PSFK Conference London 2007 shows the presentation given by Timo Veikkola, Future Strategist at Nokia, on a Vision of our Future. As design is the reflection of society, how can we envision the future through trends, observation and informed intuition. What values, attitudes and behaviours of today will shape our future?


Timo is an anthropologist and senior future specialist in Nokia’s consumer trends team, which sounds like an amazing job. He travels the world doing ethnographic research. Some key points:

* The language you use is vital… talk about “people” not “consumers”;stops you thinking of them as being like yourself.
* Innovation based on observation => “informed intuition”.
* “Can the human mind master what the human mind has made”
* “Graffiti and city landscapes are billboards for the state of society”
* Today’s society has just gone through a “noah’s ark period” with all the natural disasters.
* Green/sustainable had been round for years but only now has gone into the media…
* What will be the next step for Social media?


The Branded Application…another take

There’s a brilliant observation written by Mac Randall of Interactive Cognition concerning the success of Nike+ at Cannes the other week.

He describes the site as a ‘Branded Application’, a product. But what is a Branded Application?

“Traditional campaigns focus on entertainment to deliver a message,” writes Teknision, ” while Branded Applications provide a valuable service in order to deliver an emotional connection with a brand.”

So, Branded Applications offer valuable services which provide an emotional connection to a brand. Essentially, you’re providing something useful to your audience and at the same time you’re offering them opportunities to purchase some of your brand’s products.

As Mac goes onto say, “Brands that choose this path will be dramatically set apart from those that are still intent on interrupting the consumer wherever they are. Finding clever ways to yell “buy more” is a trite form of communication and is hopefully cruising towards its demise.

Branded Applications pick up where most websites fall short. The branded application is much deeper than a flashy microsite because there is an opportunity to excel where other experiences fall short. Applications like Nike + take the power of the web, the idea of community, the growing ability to build tools online, and run with it (yes, that horrible pun intended). The experience is sleek, useful, engaging, and most importantly begs to be revisited time and time again.”

Whilst I don’t agree with the last sentence – I actually find the site cumbersome to use for the most part – I do agree with the value it offers.

Nike Plus
I’m interested in seeing the Nike+ application evolve for a different reason to Teknision. I would question how much elastic limit the Nike+ application has for more value to be bolted on to it. Applications by their very nature do one thing well. I believe Nike and RG/A are in danger of dilluting the value of the Nike+ product they’ve created by extending its functionality rather than taking what they’ve built and making it more stable, more reliable and a more solid product overall.

Rather than bolting additional functionality onto the Nike+ application, making it more unwieldy, light-weight applications which do one thing well and interconnect via an platform-like API – much like a suite of themed applications – would be better. Unfortunately, design implimentations like that only occur when you’re not working to the same timeframe as your marketing calender but instead for the benefit of your consumers and the long term.


The death of the brand proposition and the rise of the brand story

Currently, at the heart of all brand planning lies the single-minded brand proposition. This is, by necessity, a highly focused and concentrated concept expressed in very few words (sometimes only one word). Its primacy as a planning tool derives from the fact that you need this level of focus to make an ad and ads have been the principal communications tool for most brands. However, we all know the world is changing away from advertising and the type of one-way, didactic advertising we’re used to.

Consumers want more engagement and conversation and the new media channels that are opening up also require this in order to operate successfully within them. The brand proposition is a singularly unhelpful tool as the basis for conversation or richer forms of consumer engagement. If a brand were to walk into a room of metaphorical consumers and, with a look of determination, say “Just Do It’, she would be classified as socially dysfunctional and avoided at all costs.

What a brand needs in order to be successful at a party full of consumers, is a story. Stories are richer and deeper than brand propositions and extend backwards into a brand’s category and history and also forwards into the functional reality of product delivery. It will essentially be the brand’s claim to trust and authority.


Conversations are now the kingdom

The old Packaged Goods Media (PGM) model, driven by compaines such as BBC, ITV and Sky, has evolved towards the new Conversational Media (CM) model driven by MySpace, GoogleTube and Facebook. WhilstContent is King, Conversations have now become the kingdom. Continue reading ‘Conversations are now the kingdom’


The Six Webs

Some engineers at Sun Microsystems became dissatisfied with the limitations of the desktop PC and with kludgy TV remote controls. Bill Joy and his colleagues grasped early on the impact the Internet would have on both computing and entertainment. Back in the 90s, they decided to play out how technologies imbedded in daily life would evolve under the influence of the internet. They envisioned the “far” web, as defined by the typical TV viewer experience; the “near” web, or desktop computing; the “here” web, or mobile devices with personal information one carried all the time; the “weird” web, characterized by voice recognition systems; the “B2B” web of business computers dealing exclusively with each other; and the “D2D” web, of intelligent buildings and cities. (Sun’s programming language Java was a deliberate attempt at a platform for all six webs.)

Joy sees the six webs as a great organizing principle for understanding how the internet will continue to change. He believes the “here” web will figure most prominently in our lives, with its “nomadic idea that instead of being tethered to an office, we carry around things of most interest to us.” He notes the increasing “cleavage between entertainment authored for the ‘here’ and ‘far’ webs.” The latter is dominated by such corporate interests as game companies intent on copy protection and rights management, while the “more anarchic world” of the internet leads to more interesting content, such as personal publishing, housed best on the “here” web. Says Joy, “Doing things with people you know through a small screen makes enormous sense.”

The Six Webs, 10 Years On – Bill Joy

July 2018
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